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Tsing Hua Journal of Chinese Studies
ISSN 0577-9170; DOI 10.6503/THJCS


On Bodily Space as an Approach to the Pastoral World of Tao Yuan-Ming’s Poetry

Vol. 34 No. 1    3/2004


On Bodily Space as an Approach to the Pastoral World of Tao Yuan-Ming’s Poetry


Yu Tsai









Key words

Body, space, bodily space, Tao Yuan-Ming, pastoral, world, atmosphere, chi, Synaesthesia



   This article attempts to take the spatiality of the body as an approach to explore the spatial features in the mutual immersion of the body and the pastoral world in Tao Yuan-Ming’s poetry.

    The essay is divided in four sections. The first section, “The bodily space as an approach”, starts with the assumption of the bodily space and defines it as a situational space in which the body is the ground of all perception and consciousness, the origin of the meaningfulness of the world.

    The second section, ” Dwelling on the earth by returning to the farm”, considers the rhythm of the farming cycle and the interaction of local community in order to delineate Tao’s dwelling-in-the-world as a reversion to the land and to “down-to-earth-ness”. It also explicates the mutual penetration of the mind-body and the world in terms of the “empty-room” in the farmland, and shows how Tao creates a new literary space and becomes the predecessor of Chinese pastoral poetry.

     The third section, "the co-existence of pure-peaceful-serene-remote-ness”, explores the phenomenon of Synaesthesia , to show how various perceptual transgressions and mutual immersions should be the fundamental experience of human beings in the world. The perceptual subject is co-originated and co-existent with its habitat. What the body memorizes is the over-all atmosphere in which persons, things, object and various environments are immersed. The analysis concludes by demonstrating the spatial atmosphere of pure-peaceful-serene-remote-ness as the over-all milieu of the pastoral world.

    The final section, “The flows of Chi and the change of bodily space”, explains how the mind-body states are led by Chi, and how human beings and nature interact in the flows of Chi so that the structure of bodily space can be in a mobile and changeable state. The section ends with the integration of internal and external flows which embody the harmony of the body and nature. The mutual immersion the essay explores between the body and the pastoral world is thus a process that starts with the intentionality of Tao’s body, projecting into the world  an atmosphere which consists of interpenetration with the world and a return to Tao’s body with ever-changing spatial structures and characteristics.



Author: Yu Tsai
Genre: Article
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